Cuomo: 'Donald Trump caused the COVID outbreak in New York'

Sep 9, 2020

The war of words between Gov. Andrew Cuomo and President Donald Trump escalated again Tuesday, with both accusing the other of attempting to destroy the economic viability of New York City, and the state, in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Trump, in a tweet, urged Cuomo to reopen the rest of New York City, which still remains closed to indoor dining, while Cuomo called on Trump to support federal aid for the five boroughs.

It’s the latest part of a new conflict between the pair that first took off last week, when Trump ordered federal agencies to find ways to cut funding to New York City amid the rise in crime there. Trump, on Tuesday, said that’s not the only problem plaguing the city.

“New York City must stop the Shutdown now,” Trump tweeted. “The Governor & Mayor are destroying the place!”

Credit Twitter

Unemployment in New York City was at 20% in August, according to the state Department of Labor, with some industries still on lockdown at the time. Malls, for example, won’t open in New York City until this week, while other businesses were forced to shutter permanently.

Cuomo and health officials in New York state have agreed to implement a slow rollout of the state’s reopening in the five boroughs to avoid a significant second wave of the virus.

Indoor dining is still not allowed in New York City nearly three months after it was permitted in other areas of the state. Cuomo said again that he’s worried bars and restaurants in the five boroughs won’t follow the state’s rules for indoor dining if it’s allowed.

“We know there's a risk of noncompliance because we went through it with bars,” Cuomo said. “We know the local governments were very slow to provide additional enforcement.”

That’s a reference to New York City, which Cuomo has said hasn’t provided enough personnel to enforce compliance in the five boroughs. The State Liquor Authority and the State Police have formed a task force to supplement enforcement from the NYPD.

But without indoor dining, New York City and the state are losing a significant economic booster for the five boroughs, which are already reeling from the COVID-19 crisis.

New York City is facing a projected budget deficit of $9 billion going into the next fiscal year. New York state is expecting a $30 billion budget gap over the next two years, according to the state Division of Budget.

Cuomo has asked the federal government to fill that gap, which is estimated to be as much as $53 billion when you add in the state’s other needs, like financial assistance to the city’s subway system after a sharp decline in ridership during the pandemic.

But Republicans in Congress, and Trump, have blocked proposals to provide significant infusions of aid to state and local governments experiencing major losses due to the pandemic. They have, however, approved aid packages geared more toward individual relief.

“Why? Because they're playing politics,” Cuomo said. “They don't want to help Democratic states. They don't want to help Democratic cities. This is a war on cities.”

And then Cuomo, for the second time in as many weeks, blamed the entirety of the COVID-19 crisis in New York — which has killed more than 25,000 people and infected nearly half a million — on Trump.

“Donald Trump caused the COVID outbreak in New York,” Cuomo said, alluding to the fact that the federal government blocked travel from China early on in the crisis, but not Europe, which is suspected to be the place or origin for the initial spread in New York.

Cuomo then criticized Trump’s handling of the crisis versus immigration at the southern border, where the president has vowed to build a border wall to cut down on undocumented immigrants entering the country.

“Why didn’t you stop the virus?” Cuomo said. “The virus kills many more Americans than anything you were worried about on the southern border. This nation loses more people per day to COVID than any nation on the globe.”

Congress is scheduled to return to Washington, D.C., this week, at which point negotiations are expected to continue on the next round of stimulus funding.